Not to be cheered by praise, Not to be grieved by blame, But to know thoroughly ones own virtues or powers Are the characteristics of an excellent man.
- Saskya Pandita, Tibetan Grand Lama of Saskya (1182-1251)
I remember a chick who once broke up with me, by the time she came out and made it official by saying we were done, the feeling was pretty much mutual, but we kept it cordial and after the breakup, we kept in touch with a phone call every week or so. A couple months later, I asked her how things were going and she told me she was seeing a new guy, so I asked her, “What do you like about him?”
“Well, he’s got this Harley Davidson wallet that hangs from a chain on his belt.” I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder in my life, laughing for a full fifteen or twenty seconds until tears were streaming down my cheeks. Seriously, “He’s got this Harley Davidson wallet that hangs from a chain on his belt,” was the first thing she said to me when I asked her what she liked about him.
But it did get me to thinking though, maybe there was something to be said about a little bit of a premeditated approach to male fashion after all. For me, I’d always taken pride in saying to hell with convention and fashion and as a musician far removed from the suit and tie world, for me, the best rule for a guy was to walk a fine line between not looking like a slob while at the same time, looking like you didn’t even give a damn about the clothes you grabbed when you put yourself together in the morning. Leila’s words though, they did get me to thinking . . .
So as a bit of a reality check, I began to wonder if maybe even the most ambivalent dude had to develop a few fashion rules.
I’m a child of the eighties. The chicks of the eighties, those big hairdos that took about half a can of Aqua Net to create, all the short skirts and sexy aerobic leotards, the colored outfits as loud as DayGlo, I loved all of it and I still think the style the ladies of the eighties had was smokin’ hot, but my oh my oh my if there wasn’t some godawful style going on over on the male side of the eighties.
Two things I figured out after the eighties had come and gone:
1. Asymmetrical haircuts are not for dudes.
Yeah, that’s right, I’m the guy on the upper left and I really did think that was a winning look to have my hair all short and spiked on the left side and flowing down all over the right. Thankfully, I did start to figure out how lame the asymmetrical look was by the time the album had been recorded and were were taking the promo pics:
2. Something else I figured out around the same time as the NBA and the rest of America came to their senses: men should not wear short shorts.
In the history of the fashion world, there have been more than a few styles that look laughable in hindsight, but how on earth did men in short shorts ever last forty years in the NBA and even become widely popular as the hot style for men in the 70s and 80s? And as laughable in hindsight as those short shorts were, even worse was the fashion holocaust of the cut-off Levi’s that were widespread during the eighties.
[Pictures redacted in the name of all that is holy and decent.]
Moving right along, for a guy who really takes pride in not giving a damn about fashion, for someone who thinks style is only real if it happens naturally, here are a few more rules that have crept into my consciousness over time . . .
3. No socks with your sandals. I read this in some top 10 list of men’s fashion no-nos, must have been some magazine article I randomly flipped to while waiting in a doctors office, but this was the number one no-no out of an entire top ten list of men’s fashion don’ts and I figured if that ranks at the top of the list, maybe I should take note.
This was a hard one for me to swallow because I have sweaty feet and if I go around town wearing sandals with no socks, through no fault of my own, I’ll have a little bit of mud cake between all my toes by the middle of the day. As bad as socks and sandals are, sweaty feet and sandals with mud cakes between your toes are even worse. I can’t win with sandals. I guess sandals and I were just never meant to be.
4. In one of my rare moments of curiousity about fashion and how it works, I once asked a lovely stripper I used to date named Kelly, “How do you figure out what colors match with what?” She told me, “Think of the colors that go together in nature, and if it works in nature, it will work in an outfit.” So I tried wearing brown pants like the trunk of a tree with a green shirt like the leaves up on top and I realized, hey, brown and green, these colors go together! I’ll tell you what doesn’t work, though. Unless it’s black (which technically isn’t a color) never, ever, ever wear the same color across the boards. Hello, I’m Mr. Red Shirt. I compliment my red shirt with my matching red pants and shoes! Uh, no . . . I think the Internet term for matching yourself in the same color from head to toe is: FAIL.
It’s almost as ridiculous as the guy who thought wearing denim from head to toe was going to be a hit.
5. Don’t be a walking billboard. Throw on a Pabst Blue Ribbon t-shirt or a Dodgers shirt and you’re fine. But if you put on a Pabst hat with that Pabst t-shirt or a Dodger cap with that Dodger shirt, now you’re a little man in a little uniform. I don’t even care if you’re going to the game, and I know a lot of people do it, but you will never catch me wearing more than one piece of gear that shows my allegiance. Wearing a shirt or wearing a jersey is good enough. Wearing a shirt and a cap so now you’re all coordinated . . . nooooooooooooo. Loyalty should only go so far, the guys on the field, they have a job to do, it makes perfect sense that they have a uniform that’s coordinated from head to toe. You? You’re just a guy in the stands, wear your shirt or wear your cap but keep it limited to one or the other.
Which is why I had to check myself as I headed out the house today and realized, I was way too coordinated for making a public appearance.
Hey everybody, guess what my favorite cocktail drink is? That’s right, you guessed it, I’m a Jack and Coke kind of guy!
No, sorry, even though it was a random grab of a shirt and a hat, a man should never be that coordinated.